by Matthew Paolini
There's a timely update posted at the website of the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) warning consumers about scholarship and financial aid scams aimed at high school seniors and their parents.
As high school graduation draws near, students and their parents shift into high gear as they search for the money to cover the high cost of college tuition and housing. Overwhelmed by the skyrocketing costs, they sometimes become easy prey for scholarship scammers.
Everybody needs money for college and it's precisely this need that some less than scrupulous companies are exploiting. Companies like these often look for victims at free seminars, where smooth-talking pitchmen promise a guaranteed scholarship in exchange for an up front fee.
The FTC says the offers frequently come with a seemingly reassuring money-back guarantee, which in fact has so many strings attached that a refund is virtually impossible. Other scammers speak of "scholarship awards" requiring a fee or even checking account access in order to confirm a student's "eligibility".
Whatever the scam, students and parents should be aware of warning signs that a scholarship offer isn't legitimate. One of the red flags is any mention of a scholarship guarantee. Offers requiring an up front fee, or access to credit card or banking information, have virtually no chance of being legitimate.
The FTC does acknowledge the existence of legitimate companies that match students with real scholarship opportunities for a fee, but here, too, consumers should take care to ask the right questions. Don't fall for overblown success stories. Ask companies that make such claims for the names and addresses of people in your own neighborhood that can provide references about the quality of service and the results achieved. Finally, always get any fee-for-service offer in writing.
The pressure of finding a way to pay for an expensive college education often causes students and parents to overlook one of the best sources for student aid: the Federal government! Each year, the Department of Education distributes some 80 billion dollars in Federal student aid as grants, work-study programs and loans.
The opportunities available here are simply too good to overlook and they're guaranteed to be scam-free. Check out studentaid.ed.gov, the home of Federal Student Aid on the Web, for more free information! Matt Paolini works from home as a distance learner.
Matt Paolini works from home as a distance learner. Visit University of Phoenix online degrees or University of Phoenix online degrees for free distance learning info. Matthew Paolini may be contacted at http://www.university-of-phoenix-campuses.com